Giant Steps – The Book of Pride (1988)
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It’s easy to laugh at them now — we do it here every week — but truly, there are lessons to be learned from cutouts, and the artists who make them.
Meet Colin “Col” Campsie:
And George “George” McFarlane:
Together, Campsie and McFarlane were known as Grand Hotel. And then as The Quick. And then, finally, as Giant Steps, thus teaching us that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, and eventually, if it’s the late ’80s, and your singer sounds enough like Green Gartside, you might send a single all the way up to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. Giant Steps did just that in 1988, when the leadoff single from the duo’s first/last album prompted confused Scritti Politti fans all across America to send “(The World Don’t Need) Another Lover” (download) straight up the charts:
That’s only one explanation for the success of “Another Lover,” and it’s impossible to verify, but it makes me laugh, so we’re going with it; it’s also basically the entire story of Giant Steps in a nutshell. The Politti comparison is certainly vocally apt, and has been floated by a lot of writers, but the duo lacked the songwriting chops (or another album) to make it stick — they were probably closer to a poor man’s Climie Fisher, except Simon Climie and Rob Fisher went on to greater success behind the scenes, while Campsie and McFarlane don’t seem to have done much of anything.
So what about the rest of The Book of Pride? Well, it’s actually sort of awful.
Just sort of awful, though. The album’s got that perfectly synthetic late ’80s vibe going for it, which I find hard to resist; the second single, “Into You” (download), though not nearly as catchy as “Another Lover,” still calls out to the fourteen-year-old in me. And holy crap, there’s even a video:
Where the hell is Captain Video! when you need him?
Anyway, as an artifact, the production makes for sort of a good time — which makes sense, given the album’s personnel, all of whom should be recognizable to ’80s liner-note geeks. You’ve got Gardner Cole — who we’ve really got to cover here at some point — on keyboards, Bruce Gaitsch on guitars, and David Boruff on sax, not to mention Edie Lehmann, General Hospital actress and John Kalodner of ’80s background vocalists.
Where it all falls apart, predictably, is in the songs themselves. There are some hooks here and there, but not enough of them — and yes, this is just dance pop, but even by those standards, the lyrics to these songs are pretty stupid. Witness:
I’ve never been in love before
I don’t know why
It’s your body that I can’t ignore
Thought I’d give it a try — “Steamy” (download)
Apart from me there’s no one
Who can do the things I do — to you
A part of me belongs in that part of you — “Golden Hours (Bone)” (download)
Don’t you know
That love in a perfect fool
Never should be so cool — “Do You Still Care” (download)
I dream sublime in outaspace
That’s where you put me girl
The universe shines from your face — “Same Planet Different World” (download)
You get the idea. This band was destined to be the greatest one-hit wonder ever to steal its name from a John Coltrane album — and to teach us that lesson about the whole name-changing thing. (Rumors that Giant Steps went on to change its name again, to Go West, are not true.)